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In the Studio With... Carolynn Friedman!

Updated: Jul 25, 2018

Carolynn in her studio at 1127 Artist Studios

Today we are in the studio with Carolynn Friedman, whose brightly colored mosaics have long been a luminous feature at the Gallery of Contemporary Mosaics. Carolynn’s background in culinary arts has significantly impacted her approach to mosaics, and the influence is felt by the view in her crisp presentation and the vivid, candy colored hues of her materials. Her work conveys an impressionistic instinct in color and placement of tesserae, which flow through abstracted fields of organic forms like brushstrokes. Favoring abstraction to varying degrees, her mosaics often feature orbs and arabesques that convey a sense of emotion and fluidity.

Carolynn has been featured in numerous exhibitions at the GoCM and has participated in the Prix Picassiette biennale in Chartres France. With a studio on the premises at GoCM, she maintains a close relationship with the community of artists on view, as she has done for nearly ten years. Below, she expands on the inspiration and concerns that inform her practice.

GoCM: What encouraged you to begin a mosaic practice?

CF: The Chicago School of Mosaic and it was by accident. I had no idea what that turn into the school's Ashland location was going to bring me 10 years ago. I was experiencing life changes in personal and professional areas of my life. I was in a tough place sorting out these changes. Being embraced by such a loving community, turned on a healing process that I found working in mosaics.

GoCM: Are there any materials that you find particularly rewarding to work with?

CF: I have to say, Italian Smalti is my primary medium. The color and texture of the materials and endless ways to incorporate into my art. At times I feel like I want to take a bite because the color looks so luscious. Of course I still love experimenting using other materials such as natural stone, shells, kokomo glass.etc, I keep an open mind using other materials in my work.

GoCM: Are there any experiences or intentions that influence your process

CF: Exploring a feeling and translating it into something meaningful is a starting point. My background in food has influenced my work, color wise and has helped me transition to mosaics. The planning and preparation were very similar: the executing of a meal and presenting was the fun creative part. The mosaic process is no different, except the tasting! What materials am I going to use to make this happen? Planning is essential. Drawing and more drawing. I find when I short change this process it reflects into my work. This art has taught me to be patient. It is essential to be open to change throughout the process. Many times, the work takes an unexpected turn for the better.

GoCM: When work on a piece of artwork, how do you envision its relationship with the world? Do you find that you create with a finished product in mind or no?

CF: I go back to my emotion that I had in mind. Does it say what I want it to? Usually the process is cathartic in nature. As I am working on the piece, my emotion is being worked on unconsciously. My mosaics take time as do working out my feelings. When asked to create for a certain subject for a show can be challenging and I've been stuck. It depends on the subject.

GoCM: What would you consider the biggest challenge facing you as an artist today?

CF: My next body of work. Recognizing what I want to say in my art and accepting where I am at the moment. Sometimes, ideas comes easier than other times in my life. They come from a deep personal place and being patient with my process.

GoCM: In the future, where do you see your practice going?

CF: I love making mosaics and plan to continue. I am open to whatever the future brings. I am a work in progress.

"Waning Moon" by Carolynn Friedman; 2015; Slate; 9x9 in; NFS

Carolynn was recently featured in GoCM’s exhibit Variegation at SOFA Chicago 2017 and GoCM at Gallery 1070, 2017.

If you would like to inquire about purchasing artwork from Carolynn, please contact the Gallery of Contemporary Mosaics at


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